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The origins of May Day April 30, 2009

Posted by Andreas in "The Economy", activism, anarchism, History, Politics, Work.
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For many people it comes as a bit of a surprise that May Day doesn’t have its origins in, say, revolutionary Russia, the Soviet Union or China – what with all those hideous military parades on Red Square and Tiananmen Square of rows and rows of rocketry filing past gigantic banners of Marx, Lenin and Mao.

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The celebration of the first of May as International Workers’ Day, in fact, goes back to the United States in the 19th Century and involves several high-profile anarchists. In the late 1800’s there was a widespread movement for the establishment of an 8-hour working day which coincided with massive repression of workers by authorities, factory owners and the police. At a workers’ rally in Chicago’s Haymarket Square on the 4th of May 1886 a bomb was thrown at police.

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Who threw the bomb was never discovered, but police used the incident to charge eight prominent anarchists with the crime, four of which were subsequently hanged.

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For a more thorough and detailed re-telling of the events, have a look at this article by Chicago indymedia.

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